If there’s one thing we actually did in 2020, it’s dipping our toes into a wide variety of at-home hobbies. Which is great, because learning new things can be a fantastic boost for your mental wellbeing.
But did you know that research is now showing that you can improve your brain function by engaging with new ideas and experiences? This lifelong learning could even help to prevent, or delay, the symptoms of dementia.
If you feel like taking one of your passion projects to the next level, transforming it into a side hustle could really help you focus on it, while also getting your synapses firing good and proper.
Plus making a few extras bucks as well isn’t too bad either. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at some of these ideas to get some inspo.
Making art is a great way to blow off some steam and really let loose with your emotions and feelings. “Art” is such a broad field too, so you’re bound to find something you dig that people might pay a buck or two for. If you’re not one for painting, maybe go digital and try your hand at graphic illustration. Try ceramics or making jewellery. Epoxy resin is everywhere these days, from wall art to dining trays, so why not try making some of your own?
There are so many tutorials and guides floating around online – especially on YouTube – so you can learn these new skills from the comfort of your home.
Who knows, you might realise this foray into pottery or pet portraits might be your life’s true calling. You can start selling your creations at places like Etsy or at a local market.
Even if you don’t rake in the dough right away, you’ll still score the feel-good, mind-boosting benefits that come from learning a new skill.
And if you’re still not sure if art is the right side hustle for you, take some advice from Rachael Sarra, ambassador for Queensland Health’s mental wellbeing campaign, Dear Mind.
Sarra is an Indigenous artist and designer who turned her side-hustle into a full on career:
“Just get in and start. Explore an art store and ask some questions about the products or tools that stand out to you. A lot of art stores also offer casual classes through the week. A lot of artists found their niche through experimenting and making mistakes.”
Start your own garden
Tending to a garden is a great distraction and if you have the space to grow more than you need, you could consider selling it. You can start small and sell it to your friends or neighbours, and maybe work your way up to visiting your local farmer’s market to see if you can start peddling your home-grown produce there.
If you don’t have the space for a veggie patch, see if there’s a community garden in your area that you can get a slice of. You’ll be helping the environment, growing some delicious food and hanging out with a few like-minded, green-thumbed individuals. It’s a win-win. You could even combine your smaller, individual harvests to sell at the local markets together. You could be making friends and making money.
Elliott Lyons, the co-founder of the organic produce delivery service The Farm Folk, was inspired to get into the organic food scene through his roommate, whose family owned an organic farm.
With his interest piqued, Lyons would work there a couple days a week, learning as much as he could about organic agriculture.
“Learning more about where our food comes from,” Lyons explains, “what it takes to get to our plates and the way what we eat affects our water, air, ecosystem and environment has captivated me to no end.”
Lyons could see the potential for growth in this industry, and noticed that there was an opportunity to better communicate what organic food is and how it compares to more conventional options to a wider audience.
Lyons, who also co-ran a digital media production company, was able to combine his skillset with his new interest to seize that opportunity, transforming Farm Folk into a side hustle and then into his full-time business.
Start a podcast or start streaming
Look, I know that there are already a hundred-million podcasts and videos out there in the world but hear me out. Starting a podcast or video series with your mates is a good way to help further strengthen your bonds with one another and hopefully build a community of like-minded followers.
The key is to not do it with the intention of making your podcast or videos on your own YouTube channel into some giant entertainment conglomerate. Do it with the intention of having fun with your friends while discussing topics that you would want to listen to or watch. You could even go on big deep dives about odd pieces of pop culture or life.
Alternatively, you might be one of the millions of Aussies already playing video games, so why not earn a few extra bucks from it if you can too? Just upload yourself playing new games for the first time, or start sharing highlights from your Overwatch matches.
On a technical level, learning how to put together a podcast that sounds good or a quality YouTube video is a learning experience in and of itself. You’ll need to learn how to properly mix audio, edit video and capture footage of whatever you’re talking about or game you’re playing.
Thankfully, there are plenty of online resources you can jump on to help you get started. You might even consider starting your own How To channel if you’ve already got the skills.
Get creative in the kitchen
Cooking has always been a great hobby option and depending on what you make, you’ve got a solid side hustle in the making. It’ll let you stretch your legs in the kitchen and keep you nicely distracted.
Have you been interested in making your own kimchi? Now’s a good time to check out a few online recipes and finally start getting a good ferment going. Or maybe you’re a pro at making your own soups, treats or teas from scratch. Regardless of what you cook up, if you’re feeling pretty confident, start peddling it to your friends and family.
Then, when you’re looking to take it up a notch, you can start selling your creations at a local market or online. Hell, you could even hit up your local cafe to see if they’ll stock or use your goods. How’s that for locally sourced?
Keeping your mind engaged isn’t just limited to learning. Sharing your skills with others is a great way to make new connections. Put your services out there and start tutoring others in your field of choice. Help a student become a master.
If you’re a guitar virtuoso, offer to teach someone how to shred. Think you’re a wiz with a paint brush? Maybe show someone else how to paint a gorgeous landscape. Are you a mathematics prodigy? There are definitely people out there who need to know how to properly calculate the Pythagorean theorem.
There’s a natural challenge that comes from being a teacher. You need to make sure that your student is picking up what you’re laying down, and that they’re properly learning from your classes. As you challenge them, they can challenge you.
If you aren’t keen on face-to-face lessons, you can go digital. Start out by uploading some tutorials to a YouTube channel or personal website, and you can build to offering exclusive content to paid subscribers through platforms like Patreon.
Flip vintage items
Do you love shopping, even though your wallet doesn’t? Why not try your hand at flipping stuff online?
The vintage marketplace is pretty large, so you’ll need to leverage your expertise if you want to make a mark. Are you a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about sneakers, records, or even old video games? Use that to your benefit.
What makes vintage items unique is that there’s a history behind every piece to be discovered. Where did it come from? What makes it valuable today? You’ll also learn what’s popular and easy to sell, along with the cool rare stuff you should be keeping an eye out for.
Not only will you get to know everything about vintage Air Jordans, you’ll also be able to develop your professional business skills by learning how to run ads and build a website that looks as cool as those sneakers.
When it comes to tracking down vintage stuff to sell, you can go solo, but it’s much more fun to bring a friend along for the journey. Maybe you’ve got a mate whose knowledge and passions combine well with your own, so you can team up and learn from one another while also sharing the rewards. It’s part side hustle, part adventure, part mental wellbeing booster.
It’s also a good way to connect with new people who dig the same stuff as you. I collect old comic books, and am friends with a few people purely because we bought and sold old X-Men comics from one another.
Keeping Up With The Kardashians
Don’t fancy any of these ideas? Or you’re not sure about getting serious with your new fave hobby just yet? You can get around this handy resource for more activities and ideas to get into, that’ll also help to strengthen your mental wellbeing while you’re at it.